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History of Arabs in Chicago: The Day a Sheikh Came to Chicago
ARABS OF CHICAGOLAND: May 3-4, 1976
By Ray Hanania
In May 1976, I was the publisher and main writer of a small English language newspaper called The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper. The newspaper was the first English language publication to focus on Chicago’s Arab American community and it began publication in 1975 and continued through 1977. Among the many events I covered was the arrival in Chicago of the Sheik of al-Sharjah of the United Arab Emirates, Sultan Bin Mohammed al-Qasimi. Sheik al-Qasimi arrived to a boisterous welcome organized by the Arab American community in conjunction with the Bilalian Newspaper (Mohammed Speaks), the publication of the Black Muslims in Chicago.
The event was organized by two leaders of Chicago’s Arab American community, Samir Hasan, who operated the “Export-Import Gift Shop” at 48th and Ashland Avenue in the early 1970s, and who also hosted the al-Salam Mosque which was located on the second floor of his business. It was also co-hosted by Yusef Diab, one of the elders of Chicago’s Arab and Muslim community in Chicago.
Sheik al-Qasimi arrived at Butler Field on May 3, 1976 and was greeted by many dignitaries from the Arab and Muslim Community including Heavyweight Champion Mohammed Ali and by Wallace D. Muhammed of the Nation of Islam. The following day, May 4, 1976, the Arab and Muslim community hosted a reception for Sheik al-Qasimi.
This is a historic photo exhibit of the event. (All photographs copyright (C) 2004 Ray Hanania, all rights reserved. These photographs may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Ray Hanania.)
al-Qasimi’s plane arrives, May 3, 1976 at Butler Field.
al-Qasimi and entourage arriving at Butler Field.
Mohammed Ali awaiting to greet al-Qasimi. May 3, 1976. Butler Field, Chicago.
NOI Wallace D. Mohammed greeting al-Qasimi at Butler Field.
al-Qasimi at Butler Field.
al-Qasimi’s limo arriving at 48th and Ashland Ave, and the al-Salam Mosque, located on the second floor of the Export-Import Gift Shop owned by Samir Hasan. (View of Ashland Avenue looking South.)
Samir Hasan’s Export-Import Gift Shop at 48th and Ashland (east side of street). This photo was taken in July 1977 but shows a typical afternoon and the “Souq-like” atmosphere that this shop and many other Arab American owned stores offered customers.
al-Qasimi being greeted as his enters the Export-Import Gift Shop/al-Salam Mosque building at 48th and Ashland Avenue. May 3, 1976.
Arab American leader Yusef Diab (in jacket on left) next to al-Qasimi as he enters the Export-Import Gift Shop/al-Salam Mosque building. May 3, 1976.
Samir Hasan greeting al-Qasimi in front of the al-Salam Mosque.
Yusef Diab inside the al-Salam Mosque (2nd floor) managing the presentations of flowers and gifts from Arab American children and other dignitaries.
Inside the al-Salam Mosque on the second floor of the building at 48th and Ashland Ave. Samir Hasan, owner of Export-Import Gift Shop (1st floor) giving al-Qasimi a tour of the Mosque Prayer and meeting rooms.
(Ray Hanania is a Palestinian-American author. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com. He is the winner of the Society of Professional Journalists Lisagor Award for Column Writing. His columns are archived at www.hanania.com. He is the managing editor of The Arab Daily News www.TheArabDailyNews.com)
This post has already been read 102 times!
Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
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